A study of the high-temperature oxidation of several aircraft construction materials was undertaken to assess the possibility of ignition under high-temperature flight conditions.Tests have been made both in open and closed jets, and, in addition, the burning of metals has been observed under static conditions in a pressurized vessel containing either air, oxygen, or nitrogen. When heated in an atmosphere of oxygen or when heated and plunged into a supersonic airstream, titanium, iron, carbon steel, and common alloys such as 4130 were found to have spontaneous-ignition temperatures in the solid phase (below melting) and they melted rapidly while burning. Inconel, copper, 18-8 stainless steel, Monel, and aluminum could not be made to ignite spontaneously at temperatures up to melting with the equipment available. Magnesium ignited spontaneously in either type of test at temperatures just above the melting temperature.A theory for the spontaneous ignition of metals, based on the first law of thermodynamics, is presented. Good correlation was obtained between calculated spontaneous-ignition temperatures and values measured in supersonic jet tests. There appears at the present time to be no need for concern regarding the spontaneous ignition of Inconel, the stainless steels, copper, aluminum, or magnesium for ordinary supersonic airplane or missile applications where the material temperature is kept within ordinary structural limits or at least below melting. For hypersonic applications where the material is to be melted away to absorb the heat of convection, the results of the present tests do not apply sufficiently to allow a conclusion.